Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford in Straight-Jacket

I found a DVD of Mildred Pierce in the public library several years ago. The library clerk complimented my choice. “Joan Crawford was such a great actress. And a great lady.” Crawford was a big star in her day, but in my day she was best known as the subject of Mommie Dearest, a biopic about her relationships and her psychotic aversion to wire hangers. I told the clerk Joan was really impressive in the movie Straight-Jacket. She thanked me and said she would look for it. All of this was in the back of my mind when I came to this part of the book near the beginning of chapter ten: “[she] never raised the hatchet that she knew one day would have to fall.” I think that all goes to the point about films feeding back into the experience of literature – I can’t read Mildred Pierce without thinking of Joan Crawford (and all the baggage she brings) in that role.

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